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First Grots in Polish Armed Forces

MSBS C16 FB‑M1 rifles have arrived to soldiers

A few hundreds of 5.56‑mm assault rifles MSBS C16 FB‑M1 “Grot” have arrived to soldiers of 42nd Light Infantry Battalion stationed in Morąg town, one of constituent parts of 4th Brigade of Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej (WOT – Territororial Defence Force). It’s the first unit of Polish Armed Forces to receive the new firearm.

Arrival of new weapons to a unit is always a memorable event, but this case is historically significant. It is the first time in the history of Polish Republic, when Polish soldiers receive individually served weapon wholly designed and produced in Poland. All the previous designs were based on foreign constructions – German and Russian. At the time of the transfer, representatives of Territorial Defense Force revealed that the new weapon was introduced under the name 5,56‑mm karabinek MSBS C16 FB‑M1 instead of “Grot” (arrow/spearhead, or sharp tip in Polish). According to information received by the MILMAG Military Magazine, the discrepancy will be corrected in logistic documentation at a later date

MSBS for new brigades

The first batch of one thousand MSBS C16 FB‑M1 (Grot) rifles out of a total of 53 thousands ordered in September 2017 reached Polish Armed Forces in December 2017. The new firearms arrived in the hands of new brigades of Territorial Defense Forces in early February 2018 after finalization of series of logistic procedures.

Previous units formed in the first phase of Territorial Defense Force creation were issued 5.56‑mm wz. 96C Beryl rifles. To avoid disrupting weapon training of the existing units, the older rifles will be kept in use until a significant numbers of the new construction will be available for replacement.

The first group to be be armed with Grots, will be the soldiers of Territorial Military Service (Terytorialna Służba Wojskowa or TSW) starting their basic training in Morąg at the end of March and the beginning of April. They will pledge their military oaths on April 22, at the headquarters of 42nd Light Infantry Battalion.

Future deliveries of the MSBS will be directed to other subunits of the 4th Brigade Of Territorial Defense Force (commanded from Olsztyn, composed of light infantry battalions: 41st in Olsztyn, 42nd in Morąg, and 43rd in Braniewo) and the 5th Brigade Of Territorial Defense (commanded from Ciechanow, composed of four light infantry battalions: 51st in Ciechanow, 52nd in Komorowo, and 54th in Zegrze Południowe), and starting in second quarter 2018 also to the 6th Brigade Of Territorial Defense (commanded from Warsaw and composed of five light infantry battalions: 61st in Radom, 62nd in Grojec, 63rd and 65th in Pomiechowek, and 64th in Plock).

Command of Territorial Defense Forces decided to deliver Grots into the hands of soldiers serving in TSW units formed in the second phase of TDF creation. It was driven by desire to arm with the new weapon fresh recruits who had no experience with older rifle models. This will allow early development of suitable habits and correct reactions during the basic training, were one of the key skills acquired is safe weapon handling, fitting their future service weapon. 53rd in Siedlce,

The first batch of thousand 5.56‑mm MSBS C16 FB‑M1 (Grot) rifles out of 53 thousand ordered in September 2017 reaches Polish Armed Forces in December 2017

Instructor Training

The 42nd Light Infantry Battalion from Morąg was the first to receive MSBS C16 FB‑M1 rifles. The amount of delivered weapons is sufficient to secure the training process for a number of TSW soldiers matching the recruitment plans for the first half of 2018. Future deliveries will be provided according to the established schedule.

To streamline implementation process of the new rifles, the commander of the 4th Brigade Of Territorial Defense Force together with representatives of Fabryka Broni Łucznik‑Radom (Łucznik Arms Factory in Radom) organized training for commanders and instructors of 4th, 5th, and 6th Brigades Of Territorial Defense Force, who will be overseeing introduction of the new weapons. Soldiers from the Polish Land Forces were also invited to the organized training – with seventeen Land Force instructors representing 9th Reconnaissance Regiment, 15th and 20th Mechanized Brigades, 9th Armored Cavalry Brigade, 11th Artillery Regiment, Centrum Szkolenia Wojsk Lądowych (Land Forces Training Center in Poznan), and Centrum Szkolenia Logistyki (Logistic Training Center in Grudziadz).

A total of seventy instructors participated from February 6 to February 8, training how to handle the new modular firearm in the facilities of 42nd Light Infantry Battalion in Morąg. The course included operation and safety handling, as well as life fire exercises at the military firing range.

After masterings the basics of handling the rifle during the training, the course participants engaged in life fire exercises, commenced from prone position at the distance of 100 meters

After getting used to Grot, soldiers praised simplicity and intuitiveness of weapon disassemblage. Cleaning and conservation kit was of particular interest

In Operational Forces

MILMAG Military Magazine received information that the first 5.56‑mm MSBS C16 FB‑M2 rifles will arrive in the hands of selected units of operational forces before the end of 2018. Those weapons will be taken from the pool of 53 thousand of rifles ordered in the September of the last year by Territorial Defense Forces. The contract, signed during the International Defence Industry Exhibition in Kielce, is valued at 500 million Polish zloty (approximately 147 million dollars at the time of writing).

According to informations disclosed by commander of the Territorial Defense Forces, Major General Wiesław Kukuła, General Command Of The Armed Forces is discussing the details of delivery schedule. The Land Forces will be provided with MSBS rifles from later series including minor improvements, designated as M2. They will come from the second run of this year’s production (counting 12 thousand rifles) which will be received by Polish Armed Forces in the second half of 2018.

Initial deliveries of MSBS C16 FB‑M2 rifles will be made into the hands of operational force units stationed in the same regions as the new TDF brigades. This will cover units spread on the eastern side of Poland. Probably the first units to receive the MSBS rifles will be reconnaissance regiments: 2nd (Hrubieszow), 9th (Warmia), and 18th (Białystok).

Grot rifles ordered by TDF will reach not only the newly formed TDF brigades but also will be passed to other branches of Polish Armed Forces

Many shooters acquaintanced with Beryl rifles were unaccustomed to aperture sights, working slightly differently than open sights they were used to

MSBS C16 FB-M2

Ergonomic adjustments that are going to be implemented in MSBS C16 FB‑M2 are mostly cosmetic. They include supplying weapons with green‑colored sling. The rifles will be fitted with a slightly modified handguard, with sling attachment points being moved to the sides from their current lower position. The change will keep rifles more stable in various carrying positions.

Additionally, the modified handguard will be fitted with M‑LOK system, licensed by its designer, American company Magpul Industries and marked as such.

This will be the second standard for firearm accessories interface in Polish Armed Forces after NATO Accessory Rail (NAR) following STANAG 4694 (Picatinny/MIL‑STD‑1913 variant) standard. Introduction of M‑LOK system was requested by Administration Of Armored And Mechanized Forces after the initial demand for its presence showed in the requirements for the 7.62 mm x 51 semi‑automatic sniper rifle that would replace Russian SVD. Handguard with M‑LOK slots will be also presents in Grot S semi‑automatic rifles, planned for civilian market.

After the first contact with MSBS C16 FB‑M1 rifle, soldiers were praising their ergonomics, including placing weapon controls on both sides

MSBS rifle is accompanied by eight D&D Industries aluminium magazines, sling, cleaning and conservation kit, and bayonet

During the firing, the rifles had their sights aligned for 100 meters and passed to soldiers to acquaint them with the new construction

According to the instructors shared opinion, the new rifle is better balanced than the wz. 96C Beryl. During single fire from prone position recoil and muzzle raise were negligible

During the firing there were no issues with the work of the trigger

The users liked the bolt carrier group stopping at the rear after firing the last round and the bolt carrier`s release lever location

Three Years Ahead Of Schedule

Before formation of the Territorial Defense Force and shortening relevant procedures for bulk weapon purchases for the new branch, the military decision makers planned to start purchasing modular firearms in 2021. It was tied to finalization of another step of development of Polish future soldier program code named Titan.

At the same time, the timetable took into account that that currently used 5.56 mm assault rifle wz. 96 Beryl and its shortened version wz. 96 Mini Beryl were introduced 25 years ago. Firearms models are typically used in active service for 30 years and new models are introduced a few years before sending the older model to storages and rear units.

It is a premeditated course of action, giving a few years to test examine new construction, learn of its advantages and weak points, and eliminate flaws. It also allows quality assurance and rooting out mass production problems that could have been overlooked during the small scale production of the test units. At the same time, development of logistic base for the new weapon continues with training of gunsmiths, instructors, assembling repair kits, and supplying replacement parts.

According to old plans, the first thousand of MSBS‑5.56 rifles was supposed to reach Land Forces in 2021, with additional 5 thousand of rifles ordered each following year. Those were numbers comparable to hitherto deliveries of Beryls. The old schedule, while reasonable for military, hindered the full development of the native producer’s potential. The contract signed in the September of 2017 was a critical breakthrough for Łucznik Arms Factory. It will allow the company to modernize their infrastructure, switch their production lines to manufacturing advanced weapons, and the profits will allow – for the first time in 18 year history of the factor – to finance their own research and development of new firearm technologies.

According to the initial plans, the first thousand of rifles was supposed to reach Land Forces in 2021. Schedule was adjusted so the weapons could reach operative forces earlier, in 2018

The first to receive MSBS C16 FB‑M1 will be soldiers of Territorial Military Service (TSW) who start their basic training at the end of March and the beginning of April in 42nd Light Infantry Battalion in Morąg

 

Based on information provided by ppłk Marek Pietrzak

This article was originally published on MILMAG 02/2018

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